The National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) Research Cloud has extra capacity for big data sets following $1.5 million of investment by high performance computing partner Intersect Australia.
The money was used to buy 4,500 central processing unit (CPU) cores. There is now a total national capacity of 32,000 CPU cores.
The NeCTAR Research Cloud allows researchers around Australia to host websites, databases, virtual labs, applications and online tools. In addition, the results can be shared with other researchers via the cloud.
When a researcher wants to access data on the NeCTAR cloud, they are authenticated through their university email address.
The first NeCTAR Research Cloud node went live at the University of Melbourne in February 2012. Participants in the research cloud include Australian National University, Monash University, the University of Tasmania and eResearch South Australia.
Intersect COO Marc Bailey said the CPU expansion was made due to demand from researchers for more capacity.
“For instance, climate scientists work with gigantic data sets from a myriad of disciplines and need scalable computing right next to the data,” he said in a statement.
“These types of analyses are technically extremely difficult, expensive and time-consuming in isolation. We are here to help accelerate research productivity”.
For example, the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney began using the research cloud in January 2015 to look at the genetic makeup of 1,000 cancer tumour samples. Researchers want to identify which treatments, such as chemotherapy, work best when treating different tumours.
The tumour data required 560 CPU cores, 2 terabytes of random access memory (RAM) and 20 terabytes of disk storage. This data is being hosted in the NeCTAR Research Cloud.
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